Do you have nothing better to do?
February 11, 2006 8:59 AM   Subscribe

Don't get me wrong, i love the distractions and the asking that sites like this and the metafilter allow, but if i had to choose somewhere that is truly a killer online destination, that i would fight for like my own neographical country, i would be classed a conscientious objectors. What would you fight for?

I suffer from an incredible inertia that i find hard to overcome when it comes to the more immersive and needy sites, communities or forums, web 2.0 types, chatrooms, massively multiplayer games. Maybe I doubt the value of the return on investment of breaking in to these communities, maybe i need some kind of boot camp.

Can you help me overcome this inertia, what are the killer destinations or communities that you value and fight to keep, and more importantly, how did you discover them.
posted by ugrndhg to Society & Culture (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The value of online communities is not that they are "destinations," but gathering places. They are worthwhile because of what their visitors bring with them. Decide what you are willing to contribute and that will define the "ideal" community for you.
posted by SPrintF at 9:30 AM on February 11, 2006

I'm not 100% sure I get the question. Do you mean something more profound than "What are your favorite sites, and how did you discover them?"

The web has interlaced with my world to such a degree that I discover sites right, left and center -- by a huge variety of sources. Mostly, I hear about sites from other sites (i.e., from friends, from magazines, from commercials or tv shows. Sometimes I find out about them from random goggling.

My desert island sites include these common ones: (I like all the MeFi sites, but askMe is the only one I visit daily), google, gmail,,, (subscription),,, del.ic.ious.

For me, the web is largely a reference desk. But since I have an enquiring mind, I'm at this desk 50 times a day. Someone mentions a word I don't know, I look it up. Someone mentions a country, actor, fact, company, etc. that I've never heard of, I google it. I can't imagine the withdrawal I'd feel if I stopped having access to all this info.

I hate real-world shopping, so I buy/rent almost everything through,, and

Most of my entertainment comes through Netflix, TiVo, iTunes, Amazon, and online radio (particularly BBC and If I really like a show/book/movie, I hit the message boards to read what other people like about it. If I love an author, I regularly check his website to see when he's publishing a new book. On those rare days when I go to the cinema, I check movie listings online and buy my tickets through fandango or some similar service.

Most of my friends live far away (in NYC, where I live, the Bronx is considered far away) and I can't see my wife all day, while we're at work, so gmail is always open.

Some more obscure (though not VERY obscure) sites that I love include the following: -- people submit drawings based on a weekly theme word. -- amazing photoshoppery -- which I prefer to slashdot for tech news -- a great site for motion-graphics/post-production artists. -- movie/tv news -- science, philosophy -- culture

What I'm continually hunting for is an online hangout (i.e. message board) for intellectuals that is non-snarky. I've tried a few (i.e. Brainstorms), but I've never found one where the overall intelligence-level/maturity-level impresses me. I like to believe there's a mythical somewhere where people spend all their time discussing Shakespeare, Mozart, String Theory and Carravagio -- and where they don't flame each other.
posted by grumblebee at 9:36 AM on February 11, 2006

why not make your own..? ?
posted by specialk420 at 10:21 AM on February 11, 2006

oh and dont forget...
posted by specialk420 at 10:27 AM on February 11, 2006

Clearly a question has been asked, and answered in some way -- since a post was marked best answer. Yet still, I have absolutely no idea what that question was. What websites would you kill people to protect? For me, the answer is none. What websites would I kill over if it wasn't for the fact that I didn't like killing people (i.e. I was a conscientious objector) Well, then I have no idea.
posted by delmoi at 10:59 AM on February 11, 2006

If what you're talking about immersive community - places that you really would feel lost without - for me, it would be a pre-Web place - It's a smaller, East Coast-centric version of The Well, but unlike the Well, it has no GUI and therefore, no web-access. Over the course of 16 years, it has become a very tight knit community. But new folks are always welcome if they're willing to brave returning to a command line interface.
posted by ereshkigal45 at 11:05 AM on February 11, 2006

you got me, i was asking whats your favourite site while trying to filter the answers through the context of the question, it probably works better in theory, but you seemed to get the gist. I've been on a few mesageboards and chatrooms, and too soon came away disapointed and disillusioned that this was not the mythical somewhere as well. I was hoping there may be a shortcut to finding something thats hard to define in a google, like "Where are the places people like me hang out", then again, do i really want to be there though?

i agree digg is quite a neat place, not just by what it does but how it does it. Are there any other sites like this you know, like or flickr?

i should stop looking for this mythical somewhere all over, and take and give what i can in the places i do know. Perhaps like all the best underground groups, they find you!
posted by ugrndhg at 11:18 AM on February 11, 2006

ugrndhg, tell us more about your interests. If such a mythical community DID exist, what would you like it to be like? What would be discussed there? Maybe it DOES exist and someone here can direct you there.

For me (as I mentioned) this place would be a haven for kindly "snobs" -- people who like to discuss classic works of literature, philosophy, history, etc. There ARE places like this, but I've generally found them shallow (people who want to talk about philosophy but don't know much about it, so that discussion never gets beyond "Can God make a rock so heavy he can't lift it?") or meanspirited. I don't find snarkiness, flames, etc. even SLIGHTLY fun/entertaining so that makes 99% of web-communities toxic for me. I just want a place I can go and discuss Mozart while I eat tea and crumpets.

I've tried starting my own communities, but this is really hard. You need a TON of people to make it work. 100 people are probably not enough. It may last for a while, but it will gradually lull into silence. You also need infusions of new people from time-to-time with some form of quality control.

I HAVE gotten something a bit like this via email with a small group of friends. Something about email (vs. boards) seems to work better -- at least for me -- if there are a small number of people involved. So I have my list of five kindly/snobby friends who I exchange emails with. We all cc each other. I'm almost positive if we tried to move this exchange into a forum it wouldn't work. I can't tell you why.

Once, I placed an ad on craigslist's platonic personals asking for stimulating, intellectual, email "pen-pals." I "met" some interesting people that way. My CL post was really LOOOONG -- probably about six pages if you printed it out, outlining all my interests and passions. That really helped weed out people I wasn't compatible with. A couple people even emailed me saying, "Jesus that was LONG!" Other people emailed me with their own reply essays.
posted by grumblebee at 12:30 PM on February 11, 2006

If i had to be specific, something along the lines of finding a group of cosmopolitan database administrating metaphysicians in the process of creating an open ended, darwinian online community for fun, profit, conversation and good recipes would be of interest, or some components of.

Some mental stimulation with a low barrier of entry to jump into during the lulls at work was the catalyst for the post, but you had to keep making me define something, to make your jobs easier, and see i had nothing to back it up. Certainly a decent intellectual messageboard would be welcome, whatever the subject matter, although i'd refer back to the bohemiain philosophical techie if pushed. Where could i have philosophical discussions, tech support and learn how to appreciate the finer point of Carravagio, and of course put to rest Gods rock paradox once and for all?

I was interested to hear of the difficulties in creating something similar, how many may never get the inertia to remain stable or grow. Perhaps to keep the dream alive it requires more than conversation, like a common purpose. i obviously don't know what this common purpose would be, Something beneficial to all concerned, and even those who are not. Something specific enough to sort the wheat from the chaff. How about the introduction of a new form of democracy, government by ajax?
posted by ugrndhg at 1:35 PM on February 11, 2006

I don't think I have ever run into a community that ONLY had thoughtful and interesting discussions. Instead, I think that you have to find communities that you enjoy for other reasons, where the people seem intelligent and kind as a general rule, and there you have the type of interaction you are looking for.

Take my main community online, which is focused on FPS games, primarily Counterstrike and Day of Defeat. Doesn't sound like a place for philosophy discussions, does it? Still, many of the people on my board tend to be intelligent and with a wealth of experience. Strewn between the random "hot chicks" threads and IT questions are threads where we are talking about classical music we enjoy, the books we are reading, the philosophy and strategy of war, current events, etc.

I'm also a member of other boards that tend to be the same. They are focused on other things - on my favorite author, on my favorite MMORPG, on archaeology, on Swedish folk music, etc. - but they also have people that I can talk to about other things that interest me.

I feel that it's just a matter of trying out a number of different communities until you find one with a lot of people that you like, and then sticking around for a while.
posted by gemmy at 1:44 PM on February 11, 2006

I'd stop short of killing, but if poking with a sharp stick is allowed I'd certainly poke a few people to keep the following alive. They're not necessarily communities as I'm not the most social sort, so that tends to be lost on me:

The Vaults of Erowid as I truly believe the information should be out there, and shared. Discovered by random googling.

StumbleUpon which for a year or so totally enthralled me. The love affair kind of died for me after a while, but for more sociable people who can actually cultivate real online friendships I think it is probably just as good as ever. I stumbled across this when checking out random Firefox extensions a year or more back.

ask.mefi of course - although it could do without some of the more banal questions, I love that there is a place where we can ask those things that intrigue us all, but which we don't even realise until someone posts it. Found it from a blog link I suspect, fell in love with it via the best questions link at the top of the page. Seriously though, mefi is pretty much as close to my spiritual home on the net as I have yet found - thanks Matt!

B3ta QOTW which can be a bit infantile at times, but again, thought provoking and it keeps me amused in the long dark winter nights. Found via Stumbleupon. Oh, and it's pretty British too which makes a nice change :) and Flickr - the former for the lushness of the vast majority of the photography (I'm a camera geek), and the latter for the somewhat more chatty and community like style AND great pictures.

Last but not least - the sprawling wastes of usenet, source of my only true and lasting online friends.

And ugrndhg, I hope you find the metaphysical db admins you're looking for :)
posted by BishopsLoveScifi at 2:46 PM on February 11, 2006

Bishopslovescifi, that a nice selection, i stumbled a few months ago and completely forgot about it after a rebuild. b3ta looks promising, i'll grab a sharp stick and head on over.
posted by ugrndhg at 3:25 PM on February 11, 2006

posted by petsounds at 11:02 AM on March 3, 2006

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